Animal Safety in the Extreme Cold

January 17, 2015

Today I had a very upsetting experience-not the first time it has happened! When I dragged myself out in this ridiculously cold weather (-20 C) I had not travelled far when I saw a dog tethered outside a home, and not even a dog house for refuge from the wind. 

Cold Dog

 This was not a Husky or another breed that can tolerate colder temperatures.  I hesitated about reporting this to the SPCA and went about my errands. But I could not remove this image from my mind. Feeling guilty, I decided that if the dog was still out upon my return, that I would make the appropriate call. Thankfully, he was not. 

 I was really unsettled about my lack of response to something that I knew was wrong. I purport to be an animal lover and certainly have always owned multiple pets. So why was I reluctant to get involved? Laziness, uncertainty, lack of information- or worst of all, just not wanting to get involved?

Make the call if you see a pet left in the cold

If you encounter a pet left in the cold you should document what you see: the date, time, exact location and type of animal, plus as many details as possible.  A cell phone photo will help support your case. Then contact your local animal shelter, The  Humane Society or even the police department and present your evidence. Take detailed notes regarding whom you speak with and when. If you make a report of alleged animal cruelty, the responding agency is required to investigate. 

Dialing 911 is the quickest route to get a response, but it is also useful to have the proper animal welfare agency's number on hand. Be prepared: do an online search to identify the agency—the local animal control department, animal shelter or humane society—in your area, and program the number into your cell phone.

Pets left outside in extreme temperatures, especially without food and shelter, are at risk of hypothermia, frostbite and even death. Their owners are at risk of facing criminal charges. Animal neglect is considered a misdemeanour crime in all 50 states, 10 provinces and Washington, D.C.

And let's not forget dogs left in cars.  The car becomes just like a refrigerator on these frigid days. Just because animals are out of the wind-does not mean they are safe! 

In months of extreme temperatures, either cold or heat, complaints about animal abuse skyrocket. It is our responsibility to do so.

I must admit, that after my inaction recently, whenever possible I take the route I traveled earlier this week, checking to see if that Golden Retriever is out in the cold again. Such is my guilt that I know, if there is a next time, I will not hesitate in protecting that beautiful animal by making the right call.